Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Sound Of Girls Aloud (Polydor)

Ah, the yuletide season is upon us. Yet in this cynical mercantile paradise, tis not signified by the welcomed appearance of a wee robin, or adorning one’s skates for frolics atop the frozen lake. It’s the increasingly hellish crowd numbers along Oxford Street; it’s the horrific reality that the company of wretched in-laws draws nearer; it’s wall-to-wall Coke ads; and it’s that perennial staple of the stocking, the Best Of album.

Amongst the numerous releases hoping to make it under many a fibre-optic tree is The Sound Of Girls Aloud, the greatest hits of a band arguably initially constructed solely for the Christmas market. But the key dynamic here is that particular market was four Christmases ago. Geri, Waterman, One True Voice, Chloe fucking Staines, and the Sikh bloke singing Kiss Kiss couldn’t be further removed from the pedestal of quality, inventive, idiosyncratic pop that Girls Aloud rightly and proudly stand upon.

So not an entirely unjustified anthology, then. And it’s ironic that when you consider that it was four entire years since Sound Of The Underground, it feels as fresh and as innovative as it did when it left a nation of reality TV viewers pleasantly gobsmacked. And while that debut has never been surpassed, The Sound Of Girls Aloud illustrates that there followed some landmark pop music.

Whether it’s the two-fingered bitch power of No Good Advice and Wake Me Up, the knowing pleated skirt giggles of Jump and The Show, or the Archers Aqua-soaked sorrows of Whole Lotta History, it reads like a manual on how (and why) to push the envelope.

It’s not without its hiccups – See The Day could have been shat out by Atomic Kitten during a coffee break, while Long Hot Summer and Love Machine prove that Xenomania missed the target on more than one occasion. However, these, along with the uninspiring, non-ironic take on I Think We’re Alone Now, serve to further highlight what an impressive catalogue of superior singles the band have built up.

It’s no revelation that Girls Aloud don’t have – and will never have – the wit, charm or charisma of the Spice Girls; the sharpness of All Saints; the credibility of the Sugababes, or the sheer cum-drenched slutdom of the Pussycat Dolls. Which is why, when considering what they do have, the strangest realisation you make is that The Sound Of Girls Aloud is all about the music. Perhaps not their music, but you’d be hard pushed to find a contemporary pop act as consistent and as definable as Girls Aloud. And if, in the tradition of the Christmas greatest hits compilation, this is to mark the end of the band, let’s hope their puppetmasters can find another suitable outlet to keep that triumphant music coming.

1 comment:

trevor said...

I will be purchasing this album plus the top DVD "casualty - the charlie years" when im next in Sainsburys, thanks for the top review.

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